Swiss Federal Council Updates Environmental Regulations

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Swiss Federal Council Updates Environmental Regulations

Posted by: Baris Karapinar
Category: ESG News

The Swiss Federal Council approved changes to four environmental regulations on May 31, 2024. These include the Contaminated Sites Ordinance, Chemical Risk Reduction Ordinance, Water Protection Ordinance, and Forest Ordinance.

Switzerland has around 38,000 sites with hazardous materials. Approximately 4,000 need remediation. Under current laws, large quantities of material must be transported to disposal facilities, treated, and then relocated or exported, even if they pose no further environmental risk. Now, with federal approval, excavated material from major remediation projects can be reused on-site. The Contaminated Sites Ordinance requires this reuse to be more environmentally beneficial than disposal, excludes the need for further remediation, and mandates long-term monitoring of the site. This change takes effect on June 1, 2024.

The Chemical Risk Reduction Ordinance will align with EU regulations and current technology regarding refrigerants and batteries. From January 1, 2025, new equipment using harmful refrigerants will be restricted. This ensures Switzerland meets the Montreal Protocol goals and matches EU protection levels. For batteries, new rules from July 1, 2024, will allow retailers to charge for disposing of significantly damaged batteries and introduce a refund for advance disposal fees when exporting batteries.

Temporary provisions for environmental program agreements will be extended until 2028 to continue ongoing water revitalization and forest protection projects. The Water Protection and Forest Ordinances will be updated by January 1, 2025.

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